I’ve always gone through cycles as a writer.
When I was in high school I used to write almost every day. If I wasn’t working on a story or a piece of fanfiction, I was scribbling words down in a notebook, a piece of dialog on my hand, or an idea on scrap paper. I was sad a lot of the time, lonely without many friends, and writing helped me to get my mind off things. I could build myself a new world or a new life out of words, I could avoid things for a little while or imagine them differently. For a lost teenager, that was a gift.
I took some time off when I got to college. I became busy with school work, made new friends, and basically just stopped feeling inspired. I wasn’t sad, so I didn’t feel the need to reinvent, to make up stories, or lose myself. I was happy with the world that I had; it was already new. So I stopped calling myself a writer and focused instead on becoming a reader, again. I started doing the 52 Book Challenge and rediscovered a love of books that had been put on hold while I’d been writing.
My sophomore year of college I started taking creative writing classes. I read poems and short stories, critiqued my classmates’ pieces, and started getting a feel for creativity again. But I still didn’t feel inspired. Nothing I wrote for class every sounded right; it felt forced and lacked depth. I felt coerced into writing contemporary “high-concept” pieces instead of the genre fiction I preferred and worse, I started wondering if I could write about emotions that I wasn’t feeling myself.
It wasn’t until this past year that I really started writing, again. It’s not that I’ve finished much of anything, but for the first time in four years I’ve made a conscious effort to stop putting the word “aspiring” before “writer” in my biography. I started writing down anything knowing that someday it might lead me to something and appreciating what little I was writing for its potential. Just because it wasn’t a novel, didn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile.
Famous romance author Nora Roberts once said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” I understand now that this is true both in life and in writing. You can’t fix what hasn’t been started, can’t improve on something that never took off. It might be that you write the ending first, or maybe the middle. It might be that what you’ve written gets scrapped out or changed in editing. Maybe you’ll make bad choices or follow false leads, but as a writer I’m beginning to understand that every story has to start somewhere and that I can’t wait around for my story to find me.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be a published writer. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the right story or the right words or the proper timing. But I don’t want to look back one day and regret that I didn’t try. I want to look back knowing that I did everything I possibly could, that I worked hard and made an effort. I want to see a life of seized opportunities, not wasted ones. I want to see pages full of words that I can fix, instead of blank ones that I never even tried to fill.